NFL to play Black National Anthem before games in 2021
As first reported by Front Office Sports, the NFL plans to implement new initiatives as well as continue those from last season to recognize victims of police violence and systemic racism in 2021. One of the measures carrying over from 2020 is NFL stadiums playing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the Black National Anthem, before every Week 1 game.
NFL plans to play Black National Anthem in 2021
The song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was originally written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson. It was first performed by students at the segregated Stanton School (where Johnson was the principal) in Jacksonville, Florida, on February 12, 1900, to celebrate President Lincoln’s birthday. Johnson’s brother, John Rosamond, composed the music for the lyrics, and it became a popular song in the area.
Soon after, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) adopted it as their official song. It became a rallying cry for the African American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Due to its influence during such a pivotal part of Black history in the United States, the song was unofficially deemed the Black National Anthem.
How the NFL is battling social injustice in 2021
The NFL played the Black National Anthem before each Week 1 contest in 2020 due to the racial unrest that plagued the nation. The league also allowed teams to paint social justice phrases such as “End Racism” in the back of end zones.
This season, the NFL is planning to increase promotion for social justice by permitting helmet decals, in-stadium announcements, and further messaging that is still being discussed. On top of being played before every Week 1 game in 2021, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” will be heard at the Pro Bowl, Super Bowl, and NFL Draft.
Additionally, in June of last year, commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL pledged to donate $250 million over 10 years to help combat social injustice in the country.
The National Football League would not exist if there were no Black players, coaches, staff, and fans. The protests conducted for much of last year resulted from the decades of inequality and oppression that our Black neighbors have endured. As Martin Luther King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Lift Every Voice and Sing lyrics
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.
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